Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Friday, July 2, 2010
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Although there have been some individuals who have served in the role of an Associate Minister and Assistant Pastor longer than myself, I believe that I have developed a sense of what exhilarates and invigorates those who serve in an understudy capacity as well what disturbs and discourages them. The last 11 years have provided some mountain highs and valley lows for me in regards to ministry due to the fact that I absent mindedly went along for the ride without finding out where my ministry was headed within the larger scope of the overall ministry of the church. Therefore, I have 10 questions that I would instruct Associate Ministers to ask their Pastor and maybe one day the Lord will see fit to provide me with Associate Ministers to train.
Am I called to Pulpit Ministry? "And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (Eph. 3:13). Let's face it; Everyone is not called into pulpit ministry. That does not mean that God does not have a place for you to function because as the Apostle Paul said, "We are one body with many members." Therefore, all are needed. Your pastor cannot select FOR YOU whether or not you are called into pulpit ministry, but through careful observation and discernment, the pastor should be able to help associate ministers better understand their call and help them interpret if God has really called them into this particular area of ministry. All of us have a car to drive; we just need to make sure we are in the right lane.
Am I right for this church?
Sometimes you may find yourself as a contemporary worshipper in a church that is staunch traditionalists. Before you throw in the towel and take your Bible home, you should ask the aforementioned question. Why? Well the fact of the matter is sometimes we as Christians may have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. That staunch, starchy sanctimonious group may just need your contemporary, casual character to make the church relevant to those who would otherwise not give the church a second glance.
Can my gifts be used here? Let's face it; we all have different gifts that edify the whole body of Christ. Some are administrative geniuses. If I can help in this area, will I be allowed to? Can I turn my gift for gab into a benefit for the church in terms of evangelism, visitation, or calling chair? Some have called me a Maestro and I do in fact have an affinity for music and also the credentials to serve in the music or fine arts ministry. Can I serve there? Maybe I may have a gift that will take the load off of the pastor and other areas of the ministry. I just want to know if I will be able to use it.
Where do I fit in?
Can the church be complimented by what I have to offer? Can my God given gifts and abilities help the church become more successful in what it is trying to accomplish? Will I be infringing on the rights, roles, or responsibilities of others with my gifts? Does someone else already do what I would like to do and is there room for another hand and mind in that arena? How do others feel about me in this role? Do they feel I will help or hurt the overall ministry by being in this place? (This question is relegated to those who are sincere and pure in heart; not those who may be vindictive and just don't want anybody else to steal their shine.) Is there room for another willing worker even if you have a full team already working in that area?
Am I allowed to preach?
This is not relegated to the local church alone, but also in regards to invitations to speak at other houses of worship. The precipice for this question really lies in the invitations to preach. Is your pastor willing to grant you the chance to be away from the church if it is a morning service that you have been asked to speak at? Some pastors are not flexible when it comes to being away from home on a Sunday (Saturday for SDA and other Sabbath observers) because they feel that there is something for you to learn, while others are liberal and encourage the associates to preach as much as they can, even if it means missing worship services at home.
Will you help me learn?
You may not ever be called to pastor a church and you may not be called by God into that ministry in the first place. However, it is not a bad thing to learn from your pastor if he/she is willing to teach you about pastoral ministry. Or for that matter anything that relates to ministry in general. Also, is he/she willing to help you attend learning events or school to further enhance your knowledge base? Are they willing to help you by the way of financial assistance or recommendations to resources? If the pastor is bi-vocational, he/she may not be able to directly help you financially, but they may be able to point you in the right direction for resources.
Will you keep me informed?
If there are opportunities available ie. vacant churches, continuing education, or missions excursions, will you share your findings with me? Some pastors are willing to share all available opportunities, particularly those which will be most beneficial, while some pastors are a little more reluctant to provide assistance. It is all in the individual and the associate minister should not feel apprehensive about breaching the subject. You are not trying to force your pastor's hand, but trying to find where he/she may stand if given the opportunity to relay information.
Can I tell you everything?
If I am unhappy with a certain aspect of ministry life, can I share that? Can I tell you how I am having a problem with lusting after the sisters or that I am unhappy with my home situation, can I tell you? If I am wondering why my friends all seem to be moving up and I am getting upset waiting for my turn, can we talk about it? As a person who has previously stood where I am standing, are you willing to remember how you felt and figure out a way to give me wise spiritual counsel as well as sound practical advice? Can I just be me or do I have to put on a façade to be around you?
Must I always agree with you?
Are you willing to let me have my own opinion or are you just looking for a "mini-me"? Healthy discourse sometimes derives from vigorous disagreements and we must be willing to have the ability to understand one another's opinion without sacrificing the rich relationship and fortuitous fellowship that we now share. My spouse and I do not always agree on matters, but that does not mean we are not capable of maintaining a positive, fulfilling, and loving relationship. At the end of the day, prayer for unity in the spirit should trump all of our own personal agendas when it comes to God's work.
Will you bless me when I leave?
When it is time for me to leave, will you be appreciative of our time together and grateful for the efforts I provided to the ministry or will you be seething with rage because you feel I am abandoning ship and disrupting the continuity? Will we be able to have an amiable, friendly relationship or will you despise me to no end? Even if I am commissioned to leave to go to another church, will you graciously allow me to leave or will you heap hot coals on my head because you feel betrayed? The fact of the matter is that people leave churches all of the time and an associate minister is no exception. Some leave for the right reasons, while others vacate for reasons that may seem right to them, but may be unfounded in the grand scheme of things. Regardless to the reason why someone chooses to leave, is the pastor willing to let them leave and pray God's best in their lives? Hopefully the answer is a resounding YES!
Do you consult God about me?
Quite simply, do you consult God about me and my situation or do you just rely on your expertise and the advice and counsel of your peers, colleagues, and friends? I don't mind being the topic of conversation at the pastor's meeting, but can I also be a heartfelt memo passed along to the only one who is capable to handle or hinder every situation? Allow me to be a subject matter in your discussion with the Heavenly Father. Trust me, I don't mind.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
At the risk of sounding too desperate, I have found myself wondering why it is so hard to find Christian friends in general and preacher friends specifically. I have made friendships over the years that burned with inferno intensity in the beginning only to watch it die out like awful ash. Not that we had any major disagreements or disputed the accuracy of God's word, but we just somehow drifted apart. I was somewhat of a recluse during parts of my childhood and I determined that in my adult life I would have many friends. When I started preaching, I vowed that I would have just a few close friends and maybe a good number of casual friends, but much to my chagrin, it has been difficult to receive either. As previously mentioned, we started out like we were going to break some friendship records, only to end out not finishing the race at all. Unfortunately for me, everyone is not so quick to gravitate to you if you are from something different than they are. I have found this to be especially true in churches where many of the people grew up together in local churches, districts, and conventions. Many times they are more comfortable dealing with those whom they have dealt with for a long period of time and not so quick to become acclimated to someone outside of the circle. Herein lies my problem because most of the time I am not a part of the long established crowd. I often get a "Man you sure can preach" or a "Doc, we didn't know you could do it like that" but I have yet to receive a remark that says you are now endeared to us; Let's just share with each other every so often. I'm not talking about a trading preaching dates type of friendship, but rather a friendship where I can come and cry on your shoulder because I didn't get the church or my child is acting unseemly and you don't belittle me. Exchanging preaching engagements is a natural part of preaching, but I want friends that I can just contact and say let's go to lunch and have a good time. Lord knows I need friends!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I was born into the Mt. Elam Baptist Church in Oklahoma City where Rev. Scottie Hudson was the pastor. Some time after that our church was graced with the placement of the Rev. Dr. T.L. Turner as pastor. According to many accounts, Dr. Turner was quite the preacher, but not so in tune with administration which led to the folding and disbanding of our church. It was at my home church that I actually realized my call to preach at the age of 7, but I had no one to talk to reaffirm the feelings that I was having. I am quite certain that I would be in a different sphere of preaching had our church remained intact, but God knows what His time and will are. Nevertheless, I miss being Baptist. I was in another family church that was Baptist in doctrine after Mt. Elam and when my family stopped attending church while I was in the 7th grade, I started attending COGIC congregations with my friends. All I knew is that I wanted to go to church and my friends were going. Eventually I was led to the Church of the Living God congregation where I have been for the last 17 years. It was here that I actually confessed my call to the ministry, preached my first sermon, received my license, received my ordination, and eventually became the Assistant Pastor, a role I have served in for the last 8 years. Despite all of these occurrences, I miss being Baptist. I did not realize how much until I came back around the brethren after I started preaching. There may be riffs and disputes that take place in various circles, but for the most part, Baptist pastors support one another. Not that they don't support others from other denominations, but they really try to support like mind, like character. Many people have talked about my lack of loyalty to my church because I spent so many years going to The Greater Mt. Olive Baptist Church of Oklahoma City for the early morning worship. They often said that I should start a service at our own church if I wanted to be in an early service. However, what they failed to understand is that I needed to go heard Dr. Woodberry to remember who I am. I love being able to tell people that my cousin, Rev. Dr. Eric A. Mayes Jr., served as the original pastor of Unity Baptist Church in Oklahoma City for over 40 years and that I hope to one day be able to be so fortunate to serve my congregation for prayerfully a long time. I love being able to tell people that my maternal and paternal great grandfathers were both Baptist pastors. I love being able to go to the BMA meetings and being able to sit and glean from the great minds of Dr. John Reed, Dr. James Tucker, Dr. Major Jemison, Dr. John Peoples, and so many other great pastors who can share the triumphs/trials, pleasures/pains, and satisfaction/sadness of preaching and pastoring God's people. I miss being Baptist, but I enjoy myself when the brethren welcome me back even for just a little while.